Channel Your Inner Ansel Adams

So the word around the office is the new guy has a strong Instagram game. Obviously, that’s just not going to fly since the digital image has been your office territory since aught eight. You feel your firm grip as the unofficial company picnic photographer slipping through your fingers due to your new heavyweight competition.
Fortunately for you, channeling your inner Ansel Adams is only a few easy tips away so sit down, relax, and take good mental notes because your friends at the Barber Surgeon have your proverbial back. Pay close attention, and you’ll regain your status as office photograph champion in no time.

1. Play Tic-Tac-Toe

Effective composition doesn’t require a highly trained eye and years of study at a renowned French photography school to make your photographs sing. In fact, a simple rule of thumb that any preschooler can remember will make you emperor of your Instagram city-state.
Officially called the Rule of Thirds, draw an imaginary tic-tac-toe grid across the image you want to capture. Centering your subject at one of the four intersecting points of the grid is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, creating a slightly skewed composition that prompts the viewer to ingest the entire photograph and not just the subject.

2. Don’t Sweat Expensive Gear

Although there will always be a time and place for higher-end digital cameras, don’t think you need to spend a fortune on gear. Depending on its make and model, there’s an excellent chance that cell phone of yours will be abundantly sufficient. Famed fashion photographer, Mario Testino, solely uses his cell phone for his own vacation pictures, finding it more than adequate to effectively capture his mind’s eye. To get the most out of your phone’s camera, however, find a tutorial that will walk you through the basic settings as well as the more advanced ones.
Although the auto settings on the native photo app will suffice the majority of the time, at least understand the manual exposure, shutter, and white balance settings. Play around with them under different lighting and environments in case the auto settings don’t quite capture the feel you’re striving for at some point down the road.

3. One Filter Rises Above the Rest

Whether you use a digital camera with separate lenses or digital filters through a smartphone app, one filter should be your go-to for the majority of your photo enhancement needs — the simple polarizing filter. Former National Geographic editor and photographer extraordinaire, Dan Westergren, freely admits the longtime stigma attached to filters within professional ranks has long since crumbled. The polarizing filter is now his primary weapon against unwanted glare while providing deeper hues and better-distributed light.

4. Be Frugal with the Flash

As tempting as it might be, a flash can often do more harm than good when photographing indoor subjects. The artificial light source can sour the entire picture, distracting the eye from the feeling you’re trying to convey. Granted, depending on the conditions, sometimes a flash is unavoidable. However, use the flash as a last resort and try increasing the ISO setting on your camera first to allow more light to reach its sensor.

5. A Sense of Scale Is Your Friend

Photography naturally lends itself to a dramatic flair. Play with the background behind your subject to create a sense of depth and separation from the foreground. The resulting difference in scale between the two helps the viewer feel more connected with the photograph and, thus, more readily absorbed by the narrative you’re trying to communicate.
Be bold, vivid, creative, and meticulous with your digital photographs and give the new guy in the office something to mull over. You’re the office’s resident digital picture authority, and with these tips from the BSG, you’re bound to retain your title well into the future.
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